Epicondylitis is a form of repetitive strain injury that can cause the sufferer a great deal of discomfort and inconvenience. Typically an incidence of lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow will last for between 6 months to two years, with 90% of people making a complete recovery within a year. Given that the symptoms can last for several months it is important to take preventative steps where possible so the injury does not occur in the first place.
There are two types of epicondylitis – lateral epicondylitis which is often called tennis elbow and medial epicondylitis which is sometimes called golfers elbow. Each condition can be painful and will result from repetitive motions in the respective area or in a small number of occasions from being involved with a heavy impact.
If you are suffering from either tennis elbow or golfers elbow you should expect the following symptoms.
Tennis elbow symptoms
You will usually experience pain on the outside (lateral) of the upper forearm below the elbow. It may be the case that you will feel the pain travel down your arm to your wrist.
There will be pain on the lateral epicondylite, which is the knobbly point of the bone on the outside of the elbow.
Certain activities will usually cause pain such as –
- Lifting the arm or lifting an object
- Bending your arm
- Attempting to write, grip objects (such as a racquet), make a fist or shake a persons’ hand
- Raise your hand or attempt to straighten your wrist
- Twisting your forearm to open the lid of a jar for example
When you fully straighten your arm you will usually encounter pain and a feeling of stiffness.
You will usually feel a general weakness in the forearm.
The symptoms of tennis elbow can mimic the symptoms of other conditions so it is important to seek medical advice if you believe that you may have the symptoms of the injury. Your doctor will then be able to conduct a series of simple tests and potentially imaging tests with a view to starting tennis elbow treatment.
Golfers elbow symptoms
Many of the symptoms for medial epicondylitis (golfers elbow) are very similar to those experienced by people suffering with tennis elbow.
You will feel pain down the inside (medial) of the elbow, with pain sometimes travelling down the inside of the forearm (this is as opposed to the pain felt on the “inside” when suffering from tennis elbow).
The elbow will usually feel stiff and it may be difficult to straighten or make a fist with your hand.
People that develop golfers elbow will often live with the symptoms of the injury for weeks before seeking medical assistance, but if you encounter pain when doing the following you should consider seeking medical advice –
- Pain in the elbow/forearm when swinging a golf club
- Difficulty and pain when shaking a another person’s hand
- Pain when flexing your wrist
- Pain and difficulty in squeezing your hand into a fist, throwing an object or turning a door knob
- Pain when lifting weights
A general weakness in the hands and wrists is usually found in cases of golfers elbow as well as a tingling or numb sensation that travels down into the fingers (usually the little fingers and ring finger).
If you suffer from several of the symptoms listed above or you are concerned that you may have tennis elbow or golfers elbow it would be wise to seek the services of a medically trained professional who will be able to diagnose the condition and/or put your mind at rest.
If may be the case that the symptoms have developed as a consequence of repetitive tasks undertaken as part of your job. In this instance if it can be proved that the injury occurred at work and your employer did not take reasonable steps to attempt to mitigate the risks then you could be liable to make a claim for financial compensation on behalf of your epicondylitis personal injury.